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Terpenes: The powerful organic compounds in cannabis you don

by papapuff » Sat Jul 29, 2017 4:41 pm

Terpenes: The powerful organic compounds in cannabis you don't know about

In the first of a three-part series, we introduce three common terpenes and the health benefits associated with them

by Amanda Siebert on July 29th, 2017

The unmistakable scent of fresh cannabis can provide an intoxicating aromatic experience, but from one variety to the next, smell and flavour can vary greatly, thanks to powerful compounds known as terpenes.

You might not be familiar with the term, but you've definitely been around terpenes before: This diverse class of organic compounds is found in a variety of plants, and is responsible for giving things like pine trees, citrus fruits, and lavender their distinct smells.

Think about the odour of a dank U.K. Cheese variety, and then try to imagine it next to tropical notes of Lemon Haze. That difference? It's terpenes at work.

Understanding the important healing properties that terpenes can provide is crucial in knowing just how a variety of cannabis can affect the body, especially when used in conjunction with cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

While there has been a proliferation of THC- and CBD-only products hitting the both the legal and grey markets in Canada, research has shown that when terpenes and cannabinoids work in conjunction—that is, when all the compounds of the plant are being used—cannabis is at its most effective. (Industry pros sometimes refer to this synergy among compounds as 'the entourage effect').

Factors like climate, weather, age, maturity, and soil all influence the way a plant develops terpenes, so even among the same cultivars, terpenes can present themselves in very different ways. (As such, take our recommendations below with a grain of salt, and just follow your nose).

Take a look through our guide below, and next time you visit your local dispensary, ask to compare a few strains side-by-side to see if you can identify some of the terpenes we've mentioned.


Pinene is the most commonly found terpene in the world, and is responsible for the smell you might associate with pine needles or rosemary. It actually has two isomers, alpha- and beta-pinene. Alpha-pinene is more common in cannabis. (Beta-pinene is more reminiscent of dill, basil, and hops.)

You'll find a-pinene in high concentrations of varieties like Bubba Kush, Dutch Treat, Jack Herer, and Trainwreck, to name a few.

A-pinene is anti-cancerous, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and also promotes brain function and improved respiration. Pinene can also counteract the negative effects of THC that some users might experience, like anxiety or short-term memory loss.


Commonly found in flowers and spices including lavender and coriander, linalool provides a sweet, floral scent that is often found in aromatherpy products formulated for stress relief.

Varieties of cannabis that are often high in linalool include Amnesia Haze, G-13, and Grandaddy Purple, among others.

While this terpene is anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory, anti-epileptic, and analgesic, it's biggest draw is relief from stress, anxiety, and depression. Linalool can also serve as a sedative, and supports brain function.


While pinene might be the most common terpene in the world, myrcene is the most commonly found terpene in cannabis, sometimes composing up to 50 percent of a cannabis plant's terpene volume. It produces an earthy, spicy, clove-like odour that can have tropical or citrus notes. (It's also found in huge quantities in mangos.)

Find it in cultivars like Himalayan Gold, White Widow, and AK-47.

Myrcene is often referred to as the "couch-lock" terpene, for its intense sedative effects. This anti-oxidant, anti-carcinogenic terpene is also good for brain function, pain relief, stress, and insomnia.

Here’s an urban legend you may have already heard about, but it holds some merit: Next time you plan to consume cannabis, eat a mango about 45 minutes ahead of time. Mangos are incredibly high in myrcene, which can help THC molecules reach specialized receptors in the body's endocannabinoid system, enhancing the psychoactivity and euphoria of your high.

Want more? The second part in this three part series about terpenes runs next Saturday (August 5).
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by papapuff » Sat Aug 05, 2017 11:44 am

Terpenes: How the interactive synergy of compounds in cannabis creates the entourage effect

In the second of our three-part series, we discuss whole plant medicine and share three additional terpenes that are common in cannabis

by Amanda Siebert on August 5th, 2017

You know that delicious, skunky aroma you get every time you crack open a jar of cannabis? That's thanks to important compounds in the plant called terpenes.

These compounds, which are responsible for the distinct tastes and smells we associate with certain plants, play a much larger role in the experience of using cannabis than you might think.

In part one, we told you that understanding the healing properties associated with certain terpenes is crucial in knowing how a cultivar of cannabis might affect the body.

We also mentioned that, when tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and other compounds in cannabis interact with terpenes, each compound is at its most effective. Doctors have dubbed this synergy between compounds as 'the entourage effect'.

While research has shown that individual compounds in cannabis can be effective for certain conditions, different compounds offer different medicinal properties. As such, patients might lose out on some of the benefits when they use cannabis-derived products that only utilize a single compound.

Whole plant medicine, on the other hand, combines these properties and can help to treat a wide range of symptoms and conditions with more efficacy. While smoking and vaporizing flowers are still the most common ways to utilize the whole plant, more and more manufacturers in the cannabis realm are creating oils and distillates that are infused with terpenes to help patients reap the benefits they provide as well.

While scientists have found around 200 different terpenes in cannabis, we'll be sticking to the most noseworthy. Here are three more to try and identify next time you stop in at your local dispensary.

Beta Caryophyllene

Caryophyllene comes in two forms, but the one we'll be discussing is beta caryophyllene. This terpene can be found in high quantities in spices like black pepper, clove, and cinnamon, as well as herbs like basil and rosemary.

Cultivars with high amounts of this terpene include OG Kush, Chemdawg, and Rockstar, among others. (Remember from our last story that terpenes vary depending on a number of factors.)

Beta caryophyllene is anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, antibacterial, and also supports brain function. It's currently one of the most heavily researched terpenes because of the promise its shown in treating certain conditions.


Sometimes referred to as levomenol, bisabolol can be found in cannabis, as well as plants like the chamomile flower and the candeia tree. It's known for its floral scent and is used often in fragrances and cosmetics.

You'll likely find bisabolol in varieties of cannabis including ACDC, Master Kush, and and Headband, just to name a few.

Researchers have found it to be anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and analgesic. Like beta caryophyllene, it also supports brain function.


Beer lovers and cannabis users might have more in common than they think: Both hops and cannabis are high in this terpene, which can also be found in clove and basil.

Humulene has been found in higher quantities in White Widow, Girl Scout Cookies, and Headband, though we're sure you can find the subtle earthy aroma emitted by this terpene in other strains, too.

Researchers have found humulene to be a powerful anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-cancerous compound. Like another compound in cannabis, THCv, it's known to act as an appetite suppressant, which means it may have future applications in the areas of weight loss and diet.

Take it from us: A variety of cannabis that's high in humulene might not be your best bet if you're looking to "get the munchies".

The final installment in this three part series about terpenes runs next Saturday (August 12).
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by papapuff » Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:02 pm

Terpenes: What happens when these aromatic compounds in cannabis enter the body?

by Amanda Siebert on August 12th, 2017

If you've been keeping up with our series on terpenes, you'll be familiar with what they are, and how they interact with other compounds in cannabis to create something called the entourage effect.

But what do these powerful organic compounds actually do in the body?

Terpenes, like cannabinoids, interact with the body's endocannabinoid system, a collection of cell receptors and corresponding molecules that help regulate sleep, appetite, mood, motor control, immune function, reproduction, pleasure, pain, memory, and even temperature. Humans produce their own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids (endo meaning 'within') with help from fatty acids, particularly Omega-3's.

Not only do terpenes assist cannabinoids in penetrating the blood-brain barrier; scientists have found that they can also influence the amount of THC that passes through that barrier. Different terpenes will affect the brain in different ways: while some might boost your energy, others might ease your anxiety.

This intersection is what interests scientists most, and it's why manufacturers who have integrated terpenes into their single-compound products have an edge among cannabis patients in search of the most effective medicine.

There are too many terpenes to list in this short series, but we're rounding out our list of nine today with limonene, eucalyptol, and terpineol. As terpene profiles become more and more important to the consumer experience, it's good to get in the habit of trying to identify them when you're purchasing cannabis at a retail shop.


That unmistakable citrus smell we associate with lemons and limes comes from this distinct terpene, which is also the second-most common terpene in cannabis. It's also found in oranges, rosemary, juniper, and peppermint.

Cannabis varieties that are high in limonene include Super Lemon Haze, Lemon Skunk, OG Kush, Jack Herer, and Durban Poison, among others.

The benefits of inhaling or ingesting this uplifting terpene can include elevated mood, stress relief, and increase mental focus. Limonene also has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which is why it's found in so many household cleaners. Beyond that, it also helps the digestive tract, mucous membranes, and skin absorb other terpenes and chemicals more effectively


This terpene gets its name from the eucalyptus plant, which is where it's most commonly found. Bay leaves, tea trees, and cannabis also contain eucalyptol.

While concentrations of eucalyptol in varieties of cannabis are relatively low in comparison to terpenes like myrcene and limonene, it has been found in small amounts in Super Silver Haze.

This terpene has many medicinal properties, including as an analgesic, antibacterial, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-fungal and insecticide. It's currently being studied as a potential treatment for Alzheimer's and has been shown to reduce the neuro-inflammation that causes the disease.


This terpene, common in pine trees, lilacs, eucalyptus sap, and lime blossoms, and is also responsible for the smoky aroma in lapsang souchong tea. It can be difficult to detect this terpene in cannabis by the nose alone as it often occurs alongside alpha-pinene, which has a similar aroma. It's used frequently in perfumes and cosmetics.

You'll find terpineol in cultivars of cannabis like Jack Herer, Jack the Ripper, OG Kush, and Girl Scout Cookies.

Medicinally, terpineol can be an effective antibiotic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, anti-tumor, antimalarial, and a mild sedative. Studies have shown that terpineol is also a powerful anti-cancer agent.
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